I was raised in a typical farming village in Bazhong Nanjiang County in the Sichuan Province. Life was tough. At 16, I left for Chengdu (a city of nearly 15 million people) and found work helping with basic tasks in a restaurant kitchen.
After my long shifts, I would study for hours to improve myself. Eventually, the restaurant owner recognised my dedication. He took me under his wing and taught me to cook. I was 20 years old.
Never compromise, especially on your beliefs
I was grateful for this opportunity, but I knew this was only the beginning. I didn’t have much, but in 1998 I put everything I had into starting my own catering business. Failure was not an option.
As a supplier to school canteens, I felt personally responsible to provide safe, healthy meals to students. I insisted on serving only fresh, wholesome food. So, I set up my own supply chain to guarantee the quality of our produce and ingredients.
At the same time, I trained as a Chef and finally qualified as a Master Chef, but I knew I still had more to do: to fulfil my lifelong dream of developing a restaurant business.
"I started with nothing, but thanks to the support I've received, I feel we are making a difference, one step at a time"
Entrepreneurs need support to succeed
By now, I could see that I needed more than just a tasty broth. To really grow my business, funding was crucial.
With the advice and support of Standard Chartered, I expanded my company, Ya Feng Ge, and rapidly expanded my chain of high-end restaurants. But I never forgot my roots.
Today, I try to give something back to the community by supporting schools and villages. I also buy as much local produce as I can to support the farmers.
On life’s journey, we cannot choose our starting point, but we can choose our path. I started with nothing, but thanks to the great support I've received, I feel we are making a difference – one step at a time.
The entrepreneur journey is a long one. If you work hard and stay true to your original aspirations and values, you will succeed.